clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jessica Paster on Securing THE Dress and Award Show Disasters

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Red carpet photos via Getty Images

The Emmys kicked off award season last night, and in addition to treating viewers to a few hours of Jimmy Kimmel riffs they also provided a glimpse of the trends and designers Hollywood starlets are currently in love with. Amidst a flurry of preparations, we caught up with celebrity stylist and LA native Jessica Paster for some insight into what it takes to get that gown. Named one of Hollywood Reporter's 25 Most Powerful Stylists this year and with a client list that includes Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchett and Dakota Fanning, she knows a thing or two about the industry.—Stephanie Quadri

Who did you style for the Emmys this year?
"Ariel Winter, who wore a custom Katharine Kidd floral-print dress and Brian Atwood shoes; Leslie Mann, who wore a marigold-and-white beaded Naeem Khan spring 2013 gown with turquoise jewelry; and Shannon Woodward, who wore a black-and-gold Gabriela Cadena with ornate jewels."

When does the work of securing dresses begin?
"My eyes are always peeled for dresses for clients. The shows were just last week and Leslie wore a spring 2013 dress. Ariel had a dress made for her and Shannon, I did a fitting with her at noon on Saturday to figure out what she was going to be wearing on that red carpet really depends when we find the right one."

Do you always have multiple dress options?
I" like to have a certain amount per client but I never just pull several options for multiple clients and say pick one. I make separate selections for each client."

Do you secure exclusives?
"I work directly with designers or the PR person, but I don't like to work on exclusives because god forbid the actress gets sick or something happens. That would suck for the designer. It's nice if a designer has two people wearing their gowns. I feel like exclusives get a little tricky."

How do you make the final selection?
"We do several fittings to see what works best on them. I work with designers to customize [dresses] specifically for them sometimes."

Who was your first big client that you dressed for the red carpet?
"Kim Basinger and Minnie Driver in 1997 for the Academy Awards."

Have you ever had a fashion disaster minutes before?
"Well, there are always fires to put out but I wouldn't call them disasters. For example, I've had zippers break. We had to meet one client en route to the awards show to give them another dress and the local dry cleaners let us use their bathroom to change. There's always a solution when you're prepared. We always have a back-up dress just in case."

Do you work with the clients up to the last-minute?
"I'm always with one person at a time. I work with two assistants that help the others until I can get there. I see each client right before."

Are there any tricks of the trade you can share with us?
"A beautiful dress that is well-tailored is key. You don't need anything else."

What trends do you expect to see on the red-carpet this season?
"A lot of color and pseudo-ballgowns."

Long or short?
"Both. It's true that anything goes, but long is always most appropriate."
· Jessica Paster [Official Site]

Katharine Kidd

11677 San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049 310-442-6000 Visit Website